| Tuesday, February 10, 2015
On Sunday, February 8th, local Native American youth in the surrounding Oklahoma City area gathered at Oklahoma City Community College for a day of clinics, lessons and competitive swimming.
Over 70 Native American youth ages 5-16 began the day with free swim lessons before watching local 14 and under USA Swimming members participate in the single day swim meet.
The brainchild of Oklahoma Swimming Diversity and Inclusion Chair Kathy Mendez and two OKS athlete representatives in 2011, the Native American Swim Weekend is an opportunity to invite local Native American children to experience swimming at all levels.
“We had this idea to create a swim weekend where we could showcase our 14 and under athletes and give the 15 and over swimmers an opportunity to give back,” said Mendez. “The athletes love it and they run the entire meet from sign-ins to concessions. They love being able to do this and it’s important for us to make sure our athletes are able to give back in different areas.”
Over 100 Native American children registered for the inaugural swim clinic held in Oklahoma City on January 21, 2012. Follow up swim lessons for clinic participants have continued since then.
The swim weekend, with the meet portion sanctioned by USA Swimming, is also designed to support the mission of the USA Swimming Foundation of saving lives and building champions through its swim lesson and youth athlete volunteering portion. Oklahoma Swimming hopes this meet can serve as a template to further a culture of giving, especially as it pertains to Native Americans in swimming.
“We want to continue helping Native American youth learn to swim and enjoy the sport,” Said Mendez. “I’d love for this to grow and have other local swim committees in USA Swimming with high Native American populations to copy this format and hold these types of events in their locations.”
To learn more about USA Swimming diversity and inclusion initiatives, visit:sftest.usaswimming.org/diversity.